Allgaier Earns First Top Five of 2017 at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — After finishing 30th in the first two races of the NASCAR XFINITY Series season, JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier earned his first top five of 2017.

Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet, finished fourth in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and scored the most points out of all XFINITY regulars.

He also earned his first stage points under NASCAR’s new format. He scored six points in Stage 1 (finished fifth), eight points in Stage 2 (finished third) and totaled 47 points on the day.

“We got points all day, and we were a fourth-place car, and we finished fourth place, so no disappointment at all in that regard,” Allgaier said. “The pit crew was phenomenal all day, and that’s what it takes when you’re running up against these guys. But you have to have a perfect race.”

He didn’t have a stellar qualifying effort (started 13th) and made one mistake when he slid about two feet past his pit stall during a cycle of green-flag stops with 53 laps to go, but a few late cautions helped him climb back into contention for the win.

“Unfortunately, I put myself behind the eight ball and slid through the pit box there under a green-flag pit stop,” Allgaier said. “… We had a fast enough car, and we were able to rally back there.”

At Daytona, Allgaier was part of a 12-car wreck on Lap 29 and failed to finish Stage 1. In Atlanta, he made contact with the outside wall to avoid a sliding Ty Dillon on the second lap of the race but lost grip as he avoided the spin in Turn 2, damaging his racecar’s right side.

“We knew the first two races were just bad luck,” he said. “We knew we could run up front and we did that all day. That gives us momentum going into these next few West Coast races.”



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


2017 XFINITY Season Could Be a Year-Long RCR vs. JRM Clash

Richard Childress Racing and JR Motorsports could be at the top of the heap in the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series season and dethrone Joe Gibbs Racing, which stood as the series’ most dominant organization throughout 2016.

With Carl Edwards’ unexpected leave from JGR’s No. 19 Toyota in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, defending XFINITY champion and JGR driver Daniel Suarez was summoned to be his successor and run for Rookie of the Year honors in the sport’s premier level.

11-12 November, 2016, Avondale, Arizona USA Daniel Suarez, Arris Toyota Camry and Erik Jones, Hisense Toyota Camry © 2016, Nigel Kinrade NKP
(Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade | NKP)

Erik Jones, Suarez’s XFINITY teammate and the driver of the JGR No. 20 in 2016, is also moving to Cup to pilot the No. 77 for Toyota team Furniture Row Racing and run for Rookie of the Year in the upcoming season.

The two drivers, who both were part of the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November, will turn their focus to the Cup Series. Matt Tifft will drive the No. 19 in NASCAR’s second-tier series, replacing Suarez, and the rest of the organization’s plans are yet to be announced.

According to, all three of JGR’s XFINITY cars will run in 2017 with Tifft going full-time and Suarez running a 10-race schedule. There is still no determination if JGR will have a second series regular.

It can be expected Kyle Busch will run a partial XFINITY schedule too, although he’ll be unable to compete in more than 10 races because of a new rule limiting the participation of Cup drivers with more than five years of full-time experience. Some of the discussions have also surrounded Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell possibly getting to run some races. Dave Wilson, President of Toyota Racing Development, told the NASCAR Wire Service he has “a solid plan for Christopher” and “would like to get him into an XFINITY car for a couple races.”

15-16 July, 2016, Loudon, New Hampshire USA Ty Dillon, Alex Bowman and Austin Dillon ©2016, Russell LaBounty NKP
(Photo credit: Russell LaBounty | NKP)

RCR will run five full-time cars, three of which will be driven by series regulars. Daniel Hemric graduates from the Truck Series to drive the No. 21, Brandon Jones returns for his sophomore season in the No. 33, and Brendan Gaughan will continue to race the No. 62. RCR’s No. 2 and No. 3 cars will be driven by a variety of drivers, including Cup regulars Austin Dillon and Paul Menard, and Ty Dillon will compete in about 20 races.

Ty will also be running for Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series after being named the full-time driver of the No. 13 for Germain Racing for 2017.

18-19 November, 2016, Homestead, Florida USA Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier © 2016, Nigel Kinrade NKP
(Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade | NKP)

JRM will have four full-time drivers this year. Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier both return to race the No. 1 and No. 7, respectively, and newcomers Michael Annett and William Byron also will compete for the XFINITY championship (Annett will be in the No. 5 and Byron in the No. 9.). The No. 88 will be a fifth JRM car in four events, with team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne splitting the seat time two races apiece.

RCR and JRM, both being Chevrolet teams with Cup-level resources, will occupy nine of the 40 spots available in the XFINITY field on a weekly basis. So they can potentially win a lot of races this year … A LOT.

The 2016 season was essentially JGR versus JRM, with the Toyota team usually having the slight upper hand. The Championship 4 race attested to this — it was both JRM regulars competing against both JGR regulars, with a JGR driver, Suarez, winning the title.

The series might have a different dynamic this year with the rival-Chevy teams winning and all the other teams, including 2016-winning organizations like JGR, Team Penske, and Chip Ganassi Racing, chasing in their tracks.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


NASCAR XFINITY Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Elliott Sadler

The 2016 season was nothing short of a career renaissance for Elliott Sadler. The Emporia, VA native enjoyed one of his finest seasons in NASCAR recording three wins and a second place finish in the final XFINITY Series championship standings.

Car No. 1

Crew Chief(s): Kevin Meendering, Mike Bumgarner

Team: JR Motorsports

Wins: 3

Top-Fives: 14

Top-10’s: 29

Points Finish: 2nd

2016 Quick Summary: Success is the only word that could be used to describe Sadler’s 2016 season as he was in the top-five in the championship points standings over the entire 33 race schedule. Sadler’s consistency allowed him to remain in the top two of the standings throughout the entire regular season, easily qualifying him for the inaugural XFINITY Chase.

Once he was in the Chase, he kept it coming with six straight top-seven finishes, allowing him to enter Phoenix International Raceway with a substantial gap, just needing a solid finish to make it into the Championship 4. Sadler ran a conservative race, ultimately finishing 13th to allow him to qualify. However, he’d be less three lug nuts post-race, resulting in crew chief Kevin Meendering suspended for the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sadler battled hard at Homestead, and played a two tire strategy late, but it wasn’t enough as he’d finish the race third, ending up second in the standings.

2016 Highlight(s): Any win is special but Sadler’s win at Darlington on Labor Day weekend was definitely the high point of his 2016 campaign. He started from the third position and dominated leading a race 75 laps and held off Denny Hamlin by .454 seconds to score his first career win at the Lady in Black in 13 career NXS starts at the track.

2016 Lowlight(s): It’s tough to pick out a weak point in Sadler’s 2016 season, However if you are looking for one it has to be the May race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sadler started sixth but was never a factor much on the afternoon finishing 28th, six laps down to eventual race winner Hamlin.

2017 Outlook: Sadler will return to JR Motorsports in 2017 and will be considered one of the heavy favorites to hoist the NXS championship trophy once Homestead-Miami Speedway in November comes around. Crew chief Kevin Meendering will return on top of the pit box. Sadler will have a couple of new teammates in 2017 to go along with the returning Justin Allgaier – rookie sensation William Byron and Michael Annett join the team next season.

If Sadler and team can pick up from where they left off in 2016, look for next season to be another successful year for Sadler, possibly ending in his first career championship.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


NASCAR XFINITY Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Justin Allgaier

After two years away from the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Justin Allgaier returned to the series in a big way in 2016. Even though he failed to win a race, Allgaier finished third in the championship standings.

Car No:  7

Crew Chief: Jason Burdett

Team: JR Motorsports

Wins: 0

Top-Fives: 13

Top-10s: 27

Points Finish: 3rd

2016 Quick Summary: Allgaier showed his mettle in 2016 as one of the NASCAR XFINITY Series’ most talented drivers by finishing inside the top ten at every style of track in the series. He made history this past season as part of the inaugural Championship 4 in the XFINITY Series Chase.

2016 Highlight(s): Allgaier posted three runner-up finishes as part of his 13 top-five finishes during the 2016 season. He posted only two DNF’s in 33 starts.

2016 Lowlight(s): Finished 39th after a crash in the rain-shortened race at Pocono in June. Finished sixth in the championship race at Homestead after being stuck behind a car with old tires on the final restart.

2017 Outlook: Allgaier should contend once again for the XFINITY Series championship in 2017. With the new rules regulating premier series drivers participation in lower tier series, look for Allgaier to post some victories next season as he would be a major factor almost every week especially on the short tracks and road courses.

The only twist for Allgaier which could come, though, is JR Motorsports’ expansion from three full-time teams to four full-time teams in 2017, as the Dale Earnhardt Jr. led team will have Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, William Byron and Michael Annett next season. Expansion sometimes can be good for sharing information, but sometimes can turn out poorly for a car or two within a strong organization due to spreading resources too thin.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – William Byron

William Byron went from unheralded rookie to household name during the 2016 Camping World Truck Series season. Although he fell just one race short of running for the series championship, Byron is among the ones to watch in the coming years.


Car No. 9

Crew Chief: Ryan “Rudy” Fugle

Team: Kyle Busch Motorsports

Wins: 7

Top-Fives: 11

Top-10’s: 16

Points Finish: 5th

2016 Quick Summary: Byron established himself a championship contender early in 2016 by picking up his first career NCWTS win at Kansas in May. From there he tallied six more victories and held the championship lead for 13 of 23 races this past season. For all the success Byron enjoyed in 2016 it failed to produce a championship as his dreams were dashed in Phoenix in November when an engine failure after leading a race 112 laps leaving him just short of the Championship 4.

2016 Highlight(s): Byron captured the 2016 NCWTS Rookie of the Year award after tallying a rookie record seven wins in one season.

2016 Lowlight(s): The Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway in November is a race Byron would love to have back. After starting from the pole, he had the field covered for much in the evening, leading 112 out of the race’s first 138 laps when disaster struck by way of an engine failure leaving the prohibitive series championship favorite out of the Championship 4 at Homestead. Ironically Byron would win the season finale at the track just one week later.

2017 Outlook: 2017 brings a whole variety of changes for Byron as he moves to the NASCAR XFINITY Series driving for JR Motorsports. Byron shouldn’t have much trouble getting accustomed to the second tier series which will feature a deeper pool of competition including his teammates Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, and Michael Annett. Look for Byron to become a factor for wins early as he has familiarity with most of the XFINITY Series schedule with the exceptions of Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, Road America, and MidOhio. The expectations for Byron and this race team next season should be at least a win and a berth in the XFINITY Series Chase.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


Bumgarner Named Crew Chief for Sadler

Elliott Sadler’s quest for a NASCAR XFINITY Series title didn’t get any easier this week.

JR Motorsports race operations manager, Mike Bumgarner, will serve as Sadler’s crew chief for the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet Camaro team, a role typically filled by Kevin Mendering.

Mendering is serving a one-race suspension this weekend as a result from last weekend’s Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway where NASCAR officials found two lug nuts that were not tightened enough to their satisfaction.

NASCAR announced the infraction and penalty after the race. It was the second consecutive week NASCAR contested Sadler’s car in the post-race lug nut inspection, following a single nut loose post-race at Texas. NASCAR did state the suspension was directly a result from the two lug nuts at Phoenix, not a compound penalty.

Sadler can take solace in that Bumgarner has been around the sport for a while. The 22-year veteran spent 18 seasons at Hendrick Motorsports, helping to prepare cars for Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Busch. In 2007, he was the crew chief for Kyle Busch’s No. 5 Chevrolet team, and went to Victory Lane four times, while also winning three pole awards.

In 2013, Bumgarner started working for JR Motorsports as the crew chief of the No. 5 XFINITY Series entry, driven by Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet. Following the 2013 season, he was promoted to his current position as race operations manager.

“We let Kevin ultimately make this decision because it’s his team,” said JR Motorsports general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller. “Kevin chose Mike to sit in the crew chief’s seat for good reason – he is experienced atop the pit box and very dependable. We have a great deal of confidence in Mike to give Elliott his best opportunity to win on Saturday.”

Sadler is coming off of a 13th-place run at Phoenix, which was good enough to make him one of the four drivers that remain eligible in the XFINITY Series season finale. As one of the Championship 4, Sadler is vying for his first XFINITY Series title. He finished runner-up in the standings in 2011 and 2012 to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The 41-year-old Emporia, Virginia native has three wins this season, along with 13 top-fives and 28 top-10s in 32 starts.

The other three drivers comprising the Championship 4 are JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier, and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones. No driver in the Championship 4 has ever won an XFINITY Series title.

The Ford Ecoboost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway can be seen on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN and can be heard on the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist


TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


Allgaier, Koch in Precarious Position after Texas

Justin Allgaier and Blake Koch collected solid finishes at Texas Motor Speedway – finishing 10th and 14th, respectively – but their Chase situations are anything but stable.

Koch’s weekend got off to a rocky start when he wrecked during practice, but his backup car didn’t disappoint in qualifying. The Kaulig Racing Chevrolet started 12th Saturday afternoon and hung around the top 15 until he feared tire issues. After pitting for a fresh set and going a lap down, Koch worked his way back up into the top 20 before a speeding penalty halted his progress. He used the last 50 laps to climb through the field and bring the No. 11 home in 14th.

Koch praised his team for overcoming the rough start to the weekend, saying, “I’m so proud of my team for rebounding off of that and getting out the backup car. They had it out before I even got my car back into the garage.”

The Texas result places him fourth on the Chase Grid, one point above the cut line. Koch knows his championship position isn’t ideal, yet he is grateful for the finish and some momentum for next week’s cutoff race at Phoenix International Raceway

“To come out of here with a top 15 and still in the Chase, I couldn’t be any more pumped and proud. We have a great Phoenix car, and we have a great Phoenix backup,” he said. “We’re ready, and it’s one of my best racetracks … I feel like I’ve gotten so much better as a driver. We’ve gotten so much better as a team at that point. I can’t wait to see what we look like at Phoenix.”

Allgaier’s day went a lot smoother than Koch’s; the JR Motorsports Chevrolet started sixth and stayed in the top 10 throughout the afternoon. The No. 7 team executed consistent stops and avoided trouble, finishing 10th.  Although he gave a stout performance, Allgaier sits one point below the cutoff line – meaning he and Koch will go against each other next weekend.

The JRM driver is confident in his team after this weekend and hopes to leave Phoenix with a trophy.

“We executed and came away with a top 10 finish. I’m very proud to drive this car,” he said, adding,” Phoenix was one of the tracks that I had circled in the Chase as I’ve always done well there.”

There is a lot of positivity surrounding their respective situations, and both feel their teams are prepared for whatever comes their way. Winning would be the best Chase scenario for Allgaier and Koch.

However, the JRM driver is hoping for another outcome – one that would benefit both him and Koch.

“I get to race my buddy Blake Koch for the final spot. I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “Hopefully, something happens, and we both get in.”



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


Annett to Join JRM in 2017

The driver lineup at JR Motorsports continues to grow as the team announced Friday that veteran driver, Michael Annett, will be joining the team in 2017.

“I’m excited for this opportunity with JR Motorsports,” said Annett.  “Dale Jr. and Kelley have done a great job building this organization.  They have put the right people in place and have a championship to their name. I look forward to joining them and competing for wins and a championship next season in the XFINITY Series.”

The Iowa-native will compete in the No. 5 with his longtime partner, Pilot Flying J, serving as primary sponsor.

“Pilot Flying J is excited to continue our long-standing relationship with Michael,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J.  “We look forward to working with JRM and wish Michael the best of luck and success in the 2017 season.”

Annett, who has spent the last three season in the Sprint Cup Series, is no stranger to the XFINITY Series. From 2009 to 2013, he found success in the series tallying seven top five’s and 34 top-10’s while competing for, Germain Racing, Rusty Wallace Racing, and Richard Petty Motorsports.

“What a great opportunity it is to bring Michael and Pilot Flying J on board with JR Motorsports,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports.  “To expand our presence in the NASCAR Xfinity Series truly shows the commitment JRM and our sponsors have made to the series.  By partnering with Pilot Flying J, all the pieces are in place to run four competitive, full-time cars for a championship next year.  We’re confident this will make our organization even stronger.”

Annett will join a roster of drivers that includes Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler and William Byron as full-time drivers. As well as, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kasey Kahne will run a select number of races in a fifth entry.

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist


TWITTER: @MitchellB66


Consistent Season Fuels Allgaier’s Championship Charge

Some may consider Justin Allgaier an underdog in this year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. The JR Motorsports driver failed to win a race during the regular season, gathering three second-place finishes in the process. Although he has been consistent throughout the first 26 races of 2016, victories lock contenders into the next round under this championship system. Can he and his No. 7 team gather up the extra speed they need?

Of course they can – they’ve been doing it all season long.

Allgaier and crew chief Jason Burdett prefer to stick to what they know, and it has done wonders for their season; the No. 7 team accumulated 11 top fives and 21 top 10s so far. For this being his first season with JRM and Burdett, those statistics are more than just impressive.

While some teams would try new approaches to outperform their fellow Chase participants, Allgaier is the exact opposite. He knows what’s working and doesn’t want to mess up their mojo.

“I don’t feel like we need to reinvent the wheel. We need some speed, we need to be able to be a little better each and every week, but we don’t need to deviate too far from where we’re at,” Allgaier told POPULAR SPEED. “We’ve made it to the Chase because of our consistency and our pace, so I don’t think we change anything other than refining what we have, make it better, and execute these races.”

Harnessing that extra speed won’t be difficult for JRM; the organization did not make any significant adjustments, even while Joe Gibbs Racing dominated the top three. The No. 7 crew have had their share of bad luck and communication issues, but it has not slowed them down.

The three-car organization has since closed in on the Toyota team without making huge adjustments, even getting teammate Elliott Sadler to victory lane at Darlington Raceway. Although impressed by the organization’s gains and his consistency, Allgaier refuses to doubt JGR’s – or any other Chase teams’ – capabilities.

He said, “That’s probably the best part for me, knowing we haven’t made any major changes and picked up a tremendous amount on the Joe Gibbs cars. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me if we go into this Chase, and they come out guns blazing, even better than they’ve been since the beginning part of the season. For the most part, I feel like all the teams and drivers have done a good job of maxing out what we have equipment-wise and what we have as far as personnel.”

Competition levels steadily increased throughout the regular season, and the Chase factors into that shift. That trend will continue throughout the final seven races as the 12-car field battles for the series title. Allgaier is focused on running well, but he understands when a good race isn’t in the cards for the No. 7 team. He also plans to keep an eye on all his competitors, who will probably come out swinging Saturday night.

“Some weeks, we’re going to be better than others, and some weeks, we’re going to be worse than others. It’s going to be about managing the bad days and excelling on the good days,” he said, adding, “You can name everyone in the Chase, and they’ve shown really good speed at certain racetracks. A lot of those guys probably feel they’re seeded lower than they should be. They’re going to be pushing and more aggressive, and they want to come out and have a couple of strong first races to try and make that next round.”

Amid working with a new organization and crew chief, Allgaier put together strong runs and contended for multiple victories. He hasn’t found victory lane just yet, but that isn’t dampening his championship hopes. Drivers have won series titles without wins before, so he isn’t worried about winning.

Allgaier is optimistic the work he and his team put in during the regular season will soon bring the series title within reach.

“They say, ‘Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.’ We definitely have the preparation; there’s no doubting that,” he said. “We just need the right opportunity to capitalize on it, and this Chase is a great format for that. We have a race car and a race team that is capable of winning a championship.”



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


Bowyer Looks Back to Form in XFINITY Chicagoland Race

Clint Bowyer made his first XFINITY Series start in four years on Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway, and topped the day off with a sixth-place finish.

Bowyer, the 37-year-old Sprint Cup Series veteran, drove the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports at the mile-and-a-half track. He qualified seventh for the race, and it was arguably the best Bowyer has looked in any NASCAR race all year.

He ran in the top 10 throughout the 300-mile event and climbed to fourth in the final 30 laps. He led three of the 200 laps, which is as many as he has led in the last 31 Cup races dating back to Talladega in October 2015.

The 2016 season has been a struggle for Bowyer on the Cup side. He has only three top 10s and sits 28th in the points standings. Bowyer signed a one-year deal with HScott Motorsports to drive the No. 15 Chevrolet and in 2017 he will be in Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 Ford as soon-to-be-retired Tony Stewart’s replacement.

Bowyer ran one Camping World Truck Series race this season and scored a fifth-place result at Kansas Speedway in May driving the No. 24 for GMS Racing. It was his only top five across the three national series all year.

Bowyer’s last XFINITY race was at Daytona International Speedway in July 2012. He piloted the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing and finished 26th after being involved in an accident.

It was a feel-good day for Bowyer, who’s been in need of a strong performance all year. After the race, he tweeted:



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.